Directed by: Shunya Ito
Starring: Meiko Kaji, Fumio Watanabe, Kayoko Shiraishi

The second film in the FEMALE PRISONER series is an entirely different beast when compared to the original. In fact the vast majority of the film takes place outside the prison walls, and since the women it focuses on are no longer in prison JAILHOUSE 41 isn't technically a Women In Prison movie but it's sleazy exploitation just the same.

The film opens with Matsu (Reiko) back in prison, in solitary confinement. The warden Goda (Watanabe) has decided to let her out but only for one day because a high profile inspector is visiting the prison. During a ceremony Matsu attacks the warden and a short riot breaks out but is soon quelled. Later during a prison transfer Matsu manages to escape along with six other prisoners. They take refuge in an old abandoned village while the authorities try to track them down.

Much like the first movie JAILHOUSE 41 has some excellent cinematography and director Ito has cranked up the surreal artful style with plenty of odd sequences including an interesting scene where the prisoners meet an old woman and a monologue is given for each prisoner explaining how and why they ended up in prison. There is a lot more character development this time around although more so in regards to the other six women than for Matsu herself. Particular attention is paid to Oba (Shiraishi), a woman who drowned her two year old son and then stabbed her unborn child to death. Oba and Matsu don't exactly have the best relationship. Matsu manages to get under her skin while saying basically nothing (much like the first film) but she has that deadly stare perfected and it's all she needs to drive Oba nuts.

JAILHOUSE 41 also has a nice score much like its predecessor and it reuses the Kaji sung theme song from the original along with an additional song also performed by her. However while we're on the subject of the film's audio, there are some strange sound effects incorporated in as well. Humorous "boing" noises are used for some undisclosed reason and whether they are to try and ease the harshness of the rape scene or not is not clear. Personally I found them a little distracting and felt that they didn't really fit in with the rest of the soundtrack.

Meiko Kaji does a brilliant job as Scorpion again and although her character isn't really developed much here she definitely gets more screen time than in the first film. Fumio Watanabe plays the evil warden Goda brilliantly once again and Kayoko Shiraishi does a great job as the crazy bitch Oba.

FEMALE PRISONER SCORPION: JAILHOUSE 41 is an excellent sequel and in fact I'd say it is on par with the first film. In some ways it may even be better but overall I think the original is a cut above. If you enjoyed the surreal arthouse styling of the first film then you'll love this sequel, and it still has enough exploitation goodness (including a somewhat random lesbian scene) for fans to enjoy. A brilliant follow up to the original FEMALE PRISONER movie.

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